Muxima

Aljezur, Algarve, Portugal Book from Eur80

Go bush in Portugal at this colourful eco-retreat, close to some of the country's finest beaches
Africa runs deep in the veins of Jorge and Sofia. Having worked there for many years on humanitarian projects, when they named their forest retreat they took inspiration from the spirit of the continent: Muxima is Kimbundu, an Angolan dialect, for 'heart'. It could not have been more aptly named. This is a place that is infused with the owners' care, compassion and genuine eco leanings: one from the heart, to be sure.

Rustic and rural, Muxima's twin single-storey casas are wrapped within a 28-hectare strand of cork and eucalyptus forest. The air is beautifully scented by the trees and the entire retreat is accessed via a winding, stoney track. When we arrived for our 2015 revisit, we were greeted with boundless energy from Zora and Cora, the dogs, and then with an easy, gentle smile from Sofia. All of this sets the tone just perfectly: Muxima eschews hotel-like uniformity in favour of the homespun and the organic. Expect serenity, a big colourful room, a child-friendly ethic and an opportunity to really get back in touch with nature.

Highs

  • An eco-retreat with a genuine 'bush' feel - the eco-swimming pool comes complete with dragonflies, lily pads and lots of frogs
  • A great place for families; with 2 children of their own, Sofia and Jorge understand children's needs and parents' expectations
  • As serene and bucolic a setting as you could hope to find, yet an easy drive from wonderful beaches
  • The chance for kids, and adults, to look to the forest and the beach for entertainment, rather than to TV
  • Great breakfasts held in a beach-shack-like casita, with stacks of local and homemade goodies

Lows

  • Not for those seeking luxury items: no iPod docks or flatscreen TVs, and WiFi in the guest lounge only. Of course, this will be a plus for some
  • Breakfast is the only meal on offer: you'll need to head down to Aljezur for other meals or self-cater if you're in one of the suites
  • Don't expect instant service but do count on TLC from your hosts
  • Reduced window openings are cool in summer but make the bedrooms quite dark; more windows are being added to bring in natural light

Best time to go

The proximity to the ocean means that this area gets milder winters and coooler summers than further inland so Muxima could provide you with a good base at any time of the year. During August things get busy and local beaches are far more crowded. In May, June, September and October you're bound to see plenty of sunshine and you just may get the sand all to yourself.

Our top tips

Ask Sofia about the more secret local beaches. She has a wealth of information, but prefers to tell guests on a one-to-one basis to prevent the word getting out!

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 7
  • Breakfast only
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 6 Dec 2015 - 25 Feb 2016
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Eira House

Rooms

Divided between Casa da Eira and Casa do Monte, each of the 7 guest rooms is named after a place where Sofia and Jorge have worked or travelled together. Ethnic fabrics, bright colour schemes and decorative objets all take the place name as their touchstone.

The original farmhouse, Casa da Eira, is a long building with thick outer walls made of the region's traditional taipa. Here you’ll find the 3 double rooms: Krabi, Citrana and Zammour. They’re big and airy with plenty of space for easy chairs and a table. Krabi and Citrana can also be made up as twin rooms.

The 4 suites have a separate living room with a sofa or mezzanine beds, and a private kitchenette. The largest suite - Mangalore - has space for up to 5 adults and is the only suite found in the Casa da Eira building.

The remaining 3 suites - Chaouen, Tissamaharama and Sotouboua - are found in Casa do Monte. Located a few hundred metres further into the forest, on top of a hill, this building also has thick outer walls and the suites feature striking sections of unrendered taipa. We happily resided in the Chaouen Suite during our 2015 revisit, and were charmed by the Moroccan lanterns and ornately painted shutters. Also, our toddler loved being able to clamber onto the low daybeds in the living room. We really enjoyed the sense of peace and escapism, but it could feel isolated for folk who prefer plenty of company.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll get a private entrance and a slice of terrace with comfy cane seating and heather blinds for shade. Polished concrete floors hide surprisingly effective solar-generated underfloor heating, and those thick outer walls mean that even in the height of summer a ceiling fan alone will keep you cool.

All rooms are spotlessly clean and have decent-sized shower rooms. Freestanding sinks are set into shiny screed surfaces and there’s a simple hanging rack for your towels. You’ll also get shower gel, shampoo and a small bar of soap made locally from natural products.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Just beneath the main house, the breakfast casita is the epitome of 'going bush' at Muxima. Resembling a breezy beach shack with views out across the valley, it has low adobe walls, a corrugated tin roof with heather matting, and wooden shutters which can be dropped down according to the season.

A big buffet breakfast is laid up along its wooden counter and small tables are painted in bright, cheerful colours. It’s a wonderfully sociable affair, where guests often sit and chat for hours over fresh local bread, homemade jams, cheeses, yoghurts, fresh fruit and eggs. Each day there’s a different (and delicious) homemade cake. We enjoyed banana bread and sweet potato cake during our stay. This is the time to talk to Jorge and Sofia about the day ahead; they are always generous with their time.

If you've booked a suite you may choose to make use of its small kitchenette. Simply equipped with pots and pans, crockery, a small fridge, an electric hob, a juicer, a microwave and a mini dishwasher - perfect for families needing to feed babies and kids on demand.

Otherwise, you'll need to drive for lunch and dinner. Aljezur is less than 5 minutes away and has a local food market, a large supermarket and various eateries. This attractive small town has a huge ex-pat population (about a third!) so expect to hear a good deal of English being spoken.

Jorge and Sofia's restaurant recommendations include Pont a Pé (in the centre of Aljezur) for traditional Alentejo cooking with friendly owners and welcoming prices, and Restaurante L-Colesterol for delicious tapas in a fun reggae atmosphere - in the summer there’s often live music. Newer discoveries include Hello Sailors in Arrifana, offering hearty, healthy pan-Asian food to keep the hungriest of surfers satisfied. They even have some kids’ options and it’s a cool hangout to people watch. In and around Aljezur, there’s Gulli for great Italian food and Arte Bianca for tasty takeaway pizzas.

If you're wondering where you'll get a pre- or post-dinner tipple, worry not. Muxima's honesty bar provides the perfect excuse to watch day turn to dusk on your terrace.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
Eating: Mangalore Suite
Activity: Amoreira Beach

Activities

  • Enjoy the tranquillity of this beautiful retreat: swim in the eco-pool, arrange a massage or seek out one of the many benches and hammocks hidden among the trees

  • Grab a mountain bike and explore the 28 hectares of forest, or simply don your walking boots

  • Kick back on the beautiful sandy beach at Amoreira. It sits at the mouth of a river, so there are calm shallows and rock pools for little ones, as well as great surfing conditions for older kids. While you’re there, treat yourself to a fish lunch at the Taberna do Gabriel

  • You can also watch the surfers and windsurfers ride the waves at Monte Clerigo; lessons are available for the uninitiated

  • Birdwatch: there are masses of feathered things in the forests surrounding the farm and the breakfast casita makes a perfect hide at dawn or dusk

  • Across the main highway is the Southwest Algarvian Natural Park and the Vicentina Coast; host to 200 bird species and 750 known plant species, of which 46 are exclusively Portuguese with 10 endemics not found anywhere else in the world

  • Play a round of golf on one of the many courses at the western end of the Algarve: the nearest is 30km from Muxima

  • Back at Muxima, try your hand at archery, with bows and arrows supplied by Jorge. Or relax while the kids make the most of the Wendy house and sandpit

  • Within 5km of Muxima you can also go fishing, riding and diving (the B&B can arrange); a bit further afield are boat trips for dolphin watching

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Scuba diving
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Jorge and Sofia, who have 2 children themselves, are genuinely welcoming and love to have families here. When we stayed, a high chair and a travel cot were set up in our room, and they provided a box of building blocks for our toddler to play with.There's plenty to do on the farm and in the surrounding forest, before you even start exploring the nearby area and beaches. Kids will love it, whether they're learning to surf, visiting the free-range pigs, playing in the Wendy house, settling into the mezzanine beds or swimming in the eco-friendly pool.

The only extra cost to be aware of is the small supplement for extra beds and cots (see rates).

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The suites have kitchenettes and plenty of space for extra guests, plus those in Casa do Monte offer added seclusion and privacy. We'd recommend the Tissamaharama and Chaouen suites (in Casa do Monte) for families with 1 or 2 children (they have space for 2 extra beds in the living room area). For those with 2 children or more, the Mangalore suite is the biggest overall and can hold a total of 3 extra beds. Note that all rooms have showers only, but baby baths are available on request.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available on request with a Portuguese or English speaker (see rates).

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • High chair
  • Pram or pushchair to borrow
  • Night light
  • Baby bath
  • Potty

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Each suite has a kitchenette complete with a microwave, a hob, a mini dishwasher, a small fridge and pots and pans. Bottles can be warmed. The buffet breakfasts have something for everyone and the nearest restaurants are 1.5km away. It's also possible to get takeaways.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Outdoor playground with Wendy house, sandpit and various toys
  • Resident farm animals include a donkey, a goat, pigs and dogs
  • Children's DVDs (TV in guest lounge)
  • Eco-friendly swimming pool with shallow end
  • Playroom with toys and (mainly Portuguese) childrens books
  • Swings on the cork tree

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Great family-friendly beaches nearby (Amoriera, Monte Clerigo and Odeciexe) 20-30 minutes' drive
  • Good walking with wildlife-spotting opportunities

Families Should Know:

There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property; the closest shop for nappies etc is 1.5km away in Aljezur

Distances:

  • Airport: Just over 1 hour
  • Medical attention: 10 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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